As the UK enters the next three weeks of lockdown and countries around the world extend their measures, video games are amongst the many things that people are turning to as a distraction and virtual reality is possibly the ultimate form of distraction – an immersive world in which to lose yourself. There have been few worlds as immersive as Moss.
Released in 2018 on PSVR, before being added to other virtual reality platforms, Moss is, without a doubt, one of the most unexpectedly delightful games ever to grace the virtual reality platform. Part action-adventure, part puzzle, the player helps Quill, a small mouse, as she attempts to save her uncle and unlock the mysteries that surround her.
You play as an unseen “Reader”, revered by the inhabitants of Moss, controlling Quill and interacting with elements of the world she moves through. It is a beautiful world, too, with every level being a stunningly detailed 3D environment you can, from your seat, look at in close detail.
“Controlling” is certainly what you do with Quill, but as the game progresses, and from its very early stages, the developers, Polyarc, have created a system where it feels like you’re leading her. As the unseen hand, you’re helping her navigate the obstacles ahead, intervening with one hand whilst controlling the fight mechanic with the other and manipulating larger-than-Quill elements of the world to help her get to where she needs to be. It’s a truly well thought out mechanic and one that feels natural, even to those experiencing VR gaming for the first time.
Initially, it may seem that the game is aimed at younger players, and they’ll certainly get a lot from the game, but older players will find beauty in Quill’s world and take pleasure in solving the puzzles, most of which fall into the pathfinder and moving parts category. As the game progresses, these threats increase and the puzzles become more fiendish, but never frustratingly so. Very much like Portal, once you begin to visualise things within the game’s logic, everything makes sense.
As Quill can move in three dimensions, and with much of the world featuring uined spaces, it takes a while to realise that you, as Reader, can also move within the same three dimensions. It quickly becomes clear that moving your body allows you to see the world from different angles – looking down at the world makes some platforms easier to traverse, looking around obstacles is a blessing at times when it comes to strategically tackling some areas, and there’s something to be said about getting up close to the structures within the world, just to see how good they look!
Available on Steam VR, the increased resolution of the PC version of the game really makes the whole experience breathtaking and something where, before you start trying to solve the challenges ahead, you’ll find yourself marvelling at the quality of the art. That is what Moss really is. It’s a work of art, visually and narratively beautiful, and amazingly serene at times.
When it comes to VR games, there’s plenty of them out there and the experience is varied and many are meant to be experienced in bite-sized chunks, almost casual in nature. There are larger experiences, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, for example, but there’s definitely a place for a game like Moss, which sits somewhere between both. You can take it a level at a time, coming back later, or find yourself working through full chapters of the game, lost in Quill’s world and wanting to see what comes next.
If you’ve got a VR headset, Moss is definitely something that is worth checking out.
Moss is available on Steam for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Valve Index and Windows Mixed Reality.
It is available for Playstation VR on the Playstation Store.